Last week we learned a bit about Tom Yearley, our new Energy Manager. Tom is just one of a group of new staff to the Sustainability team. Energy is a broad and important strand of sustainability work at any institution. Also important to King’s is its laboratories, which on average consume 3-5 times more energy per square meter than other academic spaces. This is a big reason why Martin Farley has joined the team as the Sustainable Laboratories Project Coordinator. This week we will be looking into what Martin’s role entails, and why those of us working in labs ought to be thinking seriously about sustainability.
‘I work with research labs to improve sustainability in short. Research labs consume a lot of energy, way more than most areas, and yet are often overlooked. There are a variety of areas we try and focus on like cold storage, ventilation, management practices, and about anything that produces heat. I try and bridge the gap between the researchers and facilities to find win-wins for everyone.’ In particular, Martin says he’d ‘love to further improve cold storage management here at Kings, though people like Allison Hunter have already been trailblazing in this area. For now I’ve been following in her footsteps. Cold storage is a unique challenge from the purchasing of freezers, to their maintenance and management, and finally their disposal, there is always something else to do. Kings isn’t unique in this respect I should add.
I worked just under two years at the University of Edinburgh doing a similar job, and before that worked in a few research labs and got a MSc in biology. Chatting around with lab people and learning how things and people work was pretty useful.’
Generally speaking, Martin urges everyone to be the change they want to see: ‘I really love working in and the idea of sustainability. Figuring out how as a species we’re going to survive on this planet without making it too painful for ourselves seems to be the big quest of our time, and it’s fun to be involved in a small way.’ Also, he suggests enjoying your local organic apples!
While he was at Edinburgh, Martin initiated an ongoing study into cold storage units, which seeks to discover the impact of various extreme cold temperatures on sample viability. Martin will write more in the future about laboratories to help those unacquainted to understand better what labs can and need to do in order to become more sustainable.
On another note, the Sustainability team is excited to welcome another new member, Ann Maclachlin, who steps into the role of Operations Sustainability Manager. We’ll share more about what she’s up to in coming weeks.
Unfortunately, due to last-minute scheduling conflicts, we have decided to re-schedule our second Sustainability Forum for January. The topic – green spaces and well-being – is one that we feel is very important, especially in a large city like London, and so we are very much looking forward to hosting the event in the new year. Keep checking back here for details, and we apologise for the late notice – we hope it doesn’t cause any inconvenience!
Until next time, keep it sustainable!
- Tuesday, 9 December, 18.30: EcoSoc Open Forum
Some news and stories
- World’s largest solar farm opens in California: 9.5 square miles of panels
- Already thinking about your Christmas tree? How about its sustainability?
- Sustainability, human rights, ulterior motives? The case of the Maldives
- Do we understand risks of fracking? We do have a history of rushing into things